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Primary Results Are In

By Jim Ellis
May 11, 2022

Primary Results

University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen

Nebraska: Gov. Ricketts’ Candidate Defeats Trump’s Contender — The media is leading with the point that former President Donald Trump’s Nebraska gubernatorial candidate, rancher and company CEO Chuck Herbster, lost his primary battle last night to rancher and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen. The fact that eight women, including a state senator, accused Herbster of sexual harassment long after the Trump endorsement was announced likely was the more critical factor in how the race ended.

For his part, Pillen had the support of term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts, former US congressman and ex-University of Nebraska championship head football coach Tom Osborne, former Gov. Kay Orr, the Nebraska Farm Bureau, and Americans for Prosperity, thus demonstrating a wide range of conservative and institutional backers.

Pillen defeated Herbster and Omaha state Sen. Brett Lindstrom in a close 33-30-26 percent result to claim the Republican nomination. He will be a heavy favorite in November against the new Democratic nominee, Bellevue state Sen. Carol Blood. Republican turnout was up approximately 53 percent when compared with the 2018 midterm election. Democrats also increased their participation rate but only in the six percent range.

West Virginia: Mooney Defeats McKinley — In the first of potentially six incumbent-paired contests of the 2022 post-redistricting election cycle, US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) scored a double-digit win over fellow Congressman David McKinley (R-Wheeling) last night. West Virginia lost one of its three seats in reapportionment, hence the reason for the two Republicans facing each other.

All of Rep. McKinley’s current district was contained in the new 2nd, but only half of Mooney’s territory. Former President Donald Trump backed Rep. Mooney after McKinley backed the Biden infrastructure package, which appeared to even the advantages. With polling correctly projecting a Mooney win, the four-term West Virginia congressman who previously served in the Maryland state Senate recorded a convincing 54-36 percent victory.

Senate

Alabama: Confirming Poll — Another released survey confirms that Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) is moving back into contention and very much alive to capture one of the two runoff slots that the May 24 primary will yield. A Cygnal group poll for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television (May 6-7; 600 likely Alabama Republican primary voters) agrees that former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt leads the race while Rep. Brooks and former “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant are in a tight battle for the second runoff position. In this study, Britt holds a 32-23-21 percent lead over Rep. Brooks and Durant.

Pennsylvania: Three-Way Race Emerging — Two new surveys find the Pennsylvania Senate Republican primary turning into a three-way race within the last week prior to the May 17 primary election. Pennsylvania has no runoff system, so whoever has the most votes next Tuesday, regardless of percentage attained, will become the party nominee.

The Trafalgar Group (May 6-8; 1,080 likely Pennsylvania Republican primary voters; culled from a large sample through live interview, interactive voice response system, email and text) finds television Dr. Mehmet Oz leading the candidate field with newcomer Kathy Barnette, an Army veteran and 2020 congressional nominee, placing second ahead of former hedge fund CEO David McCormick. The respondents split 24.5 – 23.2 – 21.6 percent. Insider Advantage, polling for Fox29 (released May 10; 750 likely Pennsylvania GOP primary voters) produced similar numbers: Oz 22.5 percent; Barnette 20.9 percent; and McCormick 18.5 percent.

These polls suggest that any of the top three contenders can still win the nomination. The Republican standard bearer will likely face Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), who has a large polling lead over US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) in all published surveys.

House

NE-1: As Predicted — Both party-endorsed candidates easily won their respective congressional nominations in the vacant 1st District. Norfolk state Sen. Mike Flood captured the Republican nomination with 73 percent, and Lincoln state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks became her party’s nominee with an 87 percent score. The two will square off in a June 28 special election to fill the unexpired portion of the current term. Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln) resigned his seat at the end of March after being convicted for campaign finance violations in a California court. Regardless of how the special ends, both Sens. Flood and Pansing Brooks will face each other in the regular general election.

NE-2 & 3: Incumbents Easily Re-Nominated — US Reps. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha) and Adrian Smith (R-Gering) were easily re-nominated last night in their respective primary elections. Both posted more than 75 percent of the vote. Bacon, in a competitive 2nd District will now face Omaha state Sen. Tony Vargas, while Rep. Smith drew farmer David Else as his general election opponent in the expansive 3rd CD. The NE-3 seat stretches the width of Nebraska from the Wyoming border on the west all the way to the Iowa state line in the east.

An Alabama Barnburner

By Jim Ellis

Alabama US Senate candidate Mike Durant

Feb. 16, 2022 — A trio of polls released in the past three weeks now suggest that any one of the top Alabama US Senate candidates can win the Republican nomination.

With Democrats basically conceding the general election because none of their four filed candidates can be considered a legitimate threat to score an upset win in November, the GOP nomination contest will decide who will succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R).

The Alabama Republican Senate primary is now turning into a serious three-way affair, as former “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant apparently has become a legitimate contender. According to most recent three surveys, what originally looked to be a potential outright win for US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) on May 24 now appears surely headed for a June 21 secondary runoff election.

FarmPAC, the political arm of the Alabama Farmers Federation, this week began to publicize their Cherry Communications survey (Feb. 2-6; 600 likely Alabama Republican primary voters, live interview). The results post Congressman Brooks to a tight 34-29-24 percent lead over former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt, whom FarmPAC supports, and Durant, who now runs a defense engineering company headquartered in Alabama. In this survey, Durant again emerges as an additional contender with staying power who can clear a victory path.

As February began, Britt released her internal Deep Root Analytics survey (Jan. 29-31; 2,088 likely Alabama GOP primary voters; live interview, automated response calls and online) that gave her a slight 29-28-23 percent split over Brooks and Durant. Finally, WPA Intelligence, polling for the Club for Growth who supports Rep. Brooks (Jan. 25-27; 513 likely Alabama Republican primary voters live interview), saw the congressman holding a 35-30-25 percent edge over Durant, who vaulted into second place in this poll, and Britt.

All three candidates have strong positives and the financial wherewithal to remain competitive until voters first cast their ballots at the end of May. Two of the three, Brooks and Britt, can expect to benefit from active outside support, while Durant is already funding his effort to the tune of just over $4 million with likely more to come.

Britt is the leading fundraiser. At year’s end, she had raised just under $5 million, all from donors, and reported approximately $4.1 million cash-on-hand. Sen. Shelby has also committed to spending $5 million from his own campaign treasury as an independent expenditure to support Britt, his former chief of staff.

Rep. Brooks, never known as an aggressive fundraiser, had brought in $2.15 million at the end of 2021, with almost $2 million remaining in his treasury. The Club for Growth is likely to spend seven figures in their own independent expenditure to aid the congressman’s statewide effort.

As mentioned above, Durant has invested over $4 million into his effort according to his December year-end financial disclosure report, which represented virtually all of his campaign treasury. He has already spent well over $1 million on a media blitz that has successfully placed him in serious contention.

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